Darkness and Light

There was a man who came to Jesus in the black of night.
Jesus said ‘I will tell you how the old can be born again.’
The man said ‘Thank you, but that’s not why I came.
Tell me, Rabbi, where does the sadness come from?’
 
When Jesus heard this he marveled at such great humanity.
The two men then sat shadowed, side by side in the quiet
manner of men, looking ahead into what seemed an eternity.
Jesus was repeatedly tempted to words but he knew they would 
 
only vandalize the truth. So he endured until the dawn broke
in its customary high and handsome style. The man said
‘Thank you’ as birds began to tilt into the salient of sunlight.
And Jesus was reminded why God so loved the world.
 
 
 
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Fury in Evening Land

If we lift our hands in orchestrated ecstasy
to the God we cannot see but refuse to raise
our voices in solidarity with brothers and sisters
who grieve before our very eyes then we are
indeed fully opiated addicts to religion’s needle,
and whatever flimflam of hope that is within us
is gelded and knows nothing of the fury of love.
 
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At Ease

As the morning sun
slowly warmed the rocks
arranged by the back steps
I swear to you the rocks relaxed.
Don’t swear, my mother’d say,
but I did anyway and still do
because each man does what is
right in his own eyes, right?
Right.
Today I swear it’d be a stretch
for me to believe these rocks might
cry out because they’re so at ease.
That would take nothing less
than a miracle, right?
Right.
 
 
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send in the…

the tattoo artist hesitated and said
you know, I do a lot of images of him
but what you’re wanting is something
sorta blasphemous. you get that?
I told him I did, and that I did not care.
so he inked what I asked: a purple crown of thorns
across my forehead, three blue tears drops
falling from my left eye, a black bruise beneath
my right eye, and four jagged red holes
one on either side of each wrist.
man, they’re gonna say you’ve got a messiah complex.
I said it is complex but its also quite simple -
its not improving the world, but participating in it.
as I left the shop he laughed and said
good luck, and god bless. and brace yourself.
I stepped into the sunlight and it felt like
being pushed from a womb into
the center ring of a circus already in progress.
but there ought to be clowns.
 
 
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We’ve Been Here Before

I watched the news last night
and saw a fierce row of black faces
pressed against the transparent
helmet shields of policemen and I thought
my god, my god, what year is it?
History – the vaudeville of our failure to love.
As I stepped outside this morning
I looked and caught a falling star,
and struggled at just one wish.
 

 

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O For A Hundred Saner Tongues

He could no longer bear the burden of her current language – her being the evangelical wing of the Church. He tried not to be angry about it, and most days succeeded, but every now and then a day would come along when he would drop the reins and rage. Disciples making disciples. Being on mission. Fully developed followers. It was all the language of mammon, commerce, business, busyness.

He wondered if those using that language realized what they were doing. Could they hear their own voices? He had tried, numerous times, to have conversations with those addicted to platform Christianity, to ask if not caution them about such language. But each attempt at engagement further convinced him of their desperation: If I do not talk this way, no one will listen.

It was that the language had become too small for him. Constrictive, if not picayune. It was absolute gobbledygook.

He had no desire to be the revolutionary constantly storming the castle. That was a younger man’s game, and he was older now. He did not need to be singled out for any adulation, to be recognized as some smart fellow. And he certainly had no need to find someone to blame. He simply wanted to be able to talk about things that matter with a saner tongue. He had nothing to sell. But he did have something to say.

So he began, slowly at first, the measured steps of a comment here and there on blogs, occasional tweets although that particular medium was a constant challenge for him. If someone responded to his comments he never engaged. He said what he wanted to say and moved on, the discipline of talking lightly upon the earth. A few began to take notice though and conspired to criticize him for being unwilling to be a part of the progressive dialogue for community transformation, yet another unseemly coupling of words he found to be utterly impotent. The critics could not understand why someone would choose to stay off to the side. In their unconscious trinitarian approach to almost everything, they diminished people to either being a sheep, a goat, or a wolf. He was labeled the latter, in other words, a threat.

But most of his energies were poured into short verses – sometimes poetry, other times prose. And although he admired Emily’s prod to tell truth slant, he remained vigilant not to be obtuse. He believed the presentation of faith as constant riddle or koan to be ultimately cruel. The good news, if it is any good to anyone at all, is hauntingly vernacular: For God so loved the world.

 

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A Poem To Remember Me By

Τhis is a poem to remember me by -
a cairn of balanced words I stacked
 
so as you walk farther in life without me
you can always turn around if need be
 
and find your way back to all those
times I insisted ‘You are beautiful.’
 
Then again this may be a poem to forget me by -
a pile of leaves along some curb I left
 
so as you press toward your own horizons
you might stumble upon it and not be shaken
 
but simply stirred by an old ghost saying
‘Love. The plunge with the greatest risk of all.’
 
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